“Every Day in November Will Be Dedicated to Giving” – Tom Dabertin, CEO of NHF

The National Headache Foundation (NHF) is raising money throughout November for Operation Brainstorm, a dedicated program created to offer enhanced services to veterans and active duty personnel with headache disorders and migraine disease.

NHF launched Operation Brainstorm in July and, in the ensuing months, learned that much more could be done to broaden services. “We need far more resources to increase access and quality of care for the men and women who bravely serve our country, and every penny donated goes a long way to closing that gap,” said Tom Dabertin, CEO/Executive Director of NHF.

In partnership with Biohaven Pharmaceuticals and other partners, NHF has been offering enhanced health resources for veterans and active-duty military, including:

· Production and distribution of migraine survival toolkits.

· Sponsoring Veterans Views, a syndicated radio show hosted by veterans and focusing on issues affecting veterans.

· Primary care provider training via the NHF’s Primary Care Migraine (PCM) educational program. PCM is available to healthcare providers throughout the VA medical system.

· A series of listening session forums, hosted at American Legion halls and other venues, that brings veterans together to learn about chronic headache and migraine. The sessions provide service members and veterans with comprehensive resources and information. This also offers opportunities to ask questions of headache experts and share stories and experiences with others who best understand their unique situation.

Dabertin said U.S. service members and veterans disproportionately share acute barriers to care that millions of Americans face trying to treat headache and migraine disorders. “Studies show that veterans are more likely to develop migraine or other headache disorders,” said Dabertin. “Headache and migraine disorders are a pervasive issue among veterans in the United States, but less attention and fewer resources are devoted to the treatment of headache and migraine than to more visible physical traumas.” According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, approximately 36 percent of veterans who served at least a one-year tour in Iraq or Afghanistan have a diagnosis of migraine or a headache disorder.

From 2000 to 2020, more than 430,000 U.S. service members have a diagnosis of traumatic brain injuries. These brain injuries can lead to post-traumatic headache disorder. Headache and migraine can show up weeks or months after an injury, and the debilitating symptoms can last for years. A study from the Veterans Affairs Center of Excellence for Stress and Mental Health discovered a significant link between Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and combat-related injury among veterans who experienced migraine and tension-type headache. More than 300 veterans visited the Center for services during the study in 2009; nearly half reported experiencing migraine or headache.

Dabertin said, “The more we learn about the compelling migraine and headache disorder treatment needs of veterans and active-duty military, the more we want to accomplish in their behalf. NHF goals include adding other resources and direct programs, such as companion dogs, to support veteran and military patients, their caregivers, and healthcare providers.”

At its October board meeting, NHF added Jason Sico, M.D., to its board of directors. Sico is the National Lead for the Headache Centers of Excellence (HCoE) Program within the Veterans Health Administration. The HCoE is a national initiative to improve headache care delivery through educational programs, innovative care delivery models, including telehealth, and standardized care algorithms which incorporate patient self-management and interdisciplinary headache care. I also serve as the Director of the HCoE Research and Evaluation Center (REC), which is integrated with the HCoE clinical enterprise and is tasked with understanding the epidemiology and role of military exposures in headache among Veterans.

Tax-deductible contributions can be made to NHF for Operation Brainstorm at this link: https://nhf.secure.nonprofitsoapbox.com/donat